[News] Against Canary Mission: Statement Condemning the Blacklisting of pro-BDS Student Activists

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 6 12:44:29 EDT 2016


  Against Canary Mission: Statement Condemning the Blacklisting of
  pro-BDS Student Activists

October 5, 2016

A milestone in the global BDS and Palestine solidarity movement was 
achieved in the last week of September 2016 when more than 1,000 
University faculty across the world signed a published petition 
condemning the Islamophobic, racist and sexist website Canary Mission: 

As reported previously 
on the MLAboycott website in August, Canary Mission is an anonymous 
on-line website dedicated to smearing, blacklisting and harassing 
Palestine solidarity activists.

As of this writing, more than 500 University students, and more than 50 
Professors, including many who are members of the Modern Language 
Association, have been “profiled” by Canary Mission.  The site 
explicitly states its intention of discouraging employers from hiring 
student activists once they graduate.  Canary Mission tactics include 
“tweeting” messages to employers where advocates for Palestinian civil 
rights, or BDS, may work accusing students of anti-semitism or Islamophobia.

The letter and petition condemning Canary Mission published this week 
was undertaken by a grassroots coalition of students, professors, and 
BDS activists. The statement was specifically intended to discourage 
Universities from using Canary Mission as a source for evaluating 
applicants for graduate study.  The petition stated:

As faculty who serve, have served, or are likely to serve on an 
admissions committee at graduate and undergraduate university programs 
across the country, we unequivocally assert that the Canary Mission 
website should not be trusted as a resource to evaluate students’ 
qualifications for admission. We condemn Canary Mission as an effort to 
intimidate and blacklist students and faculty who stand for justice for 

Signatories to the petition included members of the Modern Language 
Association Paul Lauter, Trinity College; David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford 
University; David Lloyd, University of California Riverside; Rosaura 
Sanchez, University of California-San Diego; Alex Lubin, University of 
New Mexico; Barbara Foley, Rutgers University; Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt 
University and Gayatri Spivak, Columbia University.  Other prominent 
signatories including Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of 
History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History; Richard 
Falk, Professor Emeritus of Law, Princeton; and Marc Lamont-Hill, 
Distinguished Professor of African-American Studies, Morehouse College.

Canary Mission emerged in February, 2015 primarily to try to combat the 
widespread effectiveness of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement 
against Israel on college and University campuses.  Since 2013, the 
Association of Asian American Studies, American Studies Association, 
National Women’s Studies Association, National Association of Chicano/a 
Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies Association and several other academic 
organizations have all passed resolutions to boycott Israeli Universities.

Canary Mission’s targeting of students is a direct response to the 
emergence of more than 200 Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, 
which have often led the fight for passage of dozens of student 
government resolutions in support of boycott or divestment from Israel.  
The tactics used against students have been particularly vicious. For 
example, more than 30 times Canary has “tweeted” messages to employers, 
including Harvard and Bank of America. Canary Mission has also tweeted 
at the FBI.

Canary Mission has profiled more than 500 students; a disproportionate 
number of them are Muslims or Palestinians.  A survey of students 
profiled on Canary Mission website revealed that Palestinian students in 
particular worried that material on Canary Mission could make it harder 
for them to return to Palestine.  As reported by Sofia Arias and Sumaya 
Awad in Socialist Worker 
one former student and Palestine solidarity activist described her 
reaction to seeing her Canary Mission profile this way:

    /As a non-citizen and a recent graduate, I knew my future was
    threatened by this ominous and libelous website labeling me a
    “terrorist threat.” Work I am proud of was maliciously presented,
    distorted and maligned. Taking a stand against oppression,
    violations of international law, inhuman conditions and an end to
    apartheid was labeled as a sign of sympathy with terrorists./

    /The setup of the site also allows contributors to help sustain the
    efforts to suppress Palestinian activists while being guaranteed
    protection by the anonymity of the site./

Another another student quoted in the /Electronic Intifada/ 
similarly noted:

    /Canary Mission was created to make students like me feel atomized
    and threatened, to push us away from activism, to make it difficult
    for students to mobilize./

    /Though I was timid about speaking up, faced with the threat of
    giving the site more ammunition to use against me, I realized that
    Canary Mission will continue to grow as more and more people support
    the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian freedom./

    /Only through activism and continuous, collective struggle against
    this site and other blacklists, whether they target Muslims or
    BlackLivesMatter activists, can these tactics of intimidation and
    harassment be stopped./

University of Hawaii Professor and MLA member Cindy Franklin, who helped 
to author the petition, told the/Electronic Intifada/ 
the statement against Canary Mission is “a reassurance to students that 
faculty have their back on this.”

“I really think it is incumbent on faculty to stand strongly in support 
of students and to do that in a very visible way, especially those of us 
with tenure,” Franklin said.

The AgainstCanaryMission petition follows the condemnation of the 
on-line website by Hank Reichmann 
Professor of History at California State University East Bay, and chair 
of the Association of American University Professors Committee on 
Academic Freedom and Tenure, who called Canary Mission a “blacklist, 
pure and simple.  It echoes the long-discredited and horrific blacklists 
of the McCarthy era”

More importantly, the petition represents a blow to efforts by 
pro-Israel supporters to resort to ad hominem, personal, slanderous, and 
anonymous attacks against supporters of Palestinian civil rights and 
BDS. The mass support for the petition represents another tipping point 
in the defense of academic freedom, free speech, and the 
constitutionally protected right to boycott Israeli universities.

Supporters of the MLA resolution to boycott are encouraged to sign the 
petition if they have not do so already and circulate it widely.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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